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Missoula native Katharine Berkoff just misses 200-meter backstroke finals at U.S. Olympic Trials

Katharine Berkoff
Posted at 7:43 PM, Jun 18, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. -- Katharine Berkoff just missed another shot at securing a bid to the Tokyo Olympics.

The Missoula Hellgate graduate and North Carolina State swimmer placed fifth in her semifinal heat of the women's 200-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Friday. She finished in 2 minutes, 9.76 seconds on Friday, giving Berkoff the ninth-fastest qualifying time. The top eight swimmers advanced to Saturday's event final.

Berkoff had the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the preliminary heats earlier on Friday, touching the wall in 2:10.09 to place third in her heat.

Regan Smith, who won the 100-meter backstroke earlier in the week, has the fastest qualifying time in the 200 back, as well. She set the pace with a time of 2:07.23 on Friday.

Berkoff and Billings natives Ethan Harder and Peter Thompson are competing in Wave II of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Wave II started on Sunday and runs through June 20. Butte native Catherine Russo competed in Wave I, which took place earlier this month.

Thompson is set to swim in the men's 1,500-meter freestyle on Saturday.

Harder competed in the men's 200-meter backstroke on Thursday, placing 45th with a time of 2 minutes, 5.15 seconds. Harder, who swims collegiately at the University of Texas, placed 51st in the 100-meter backstroke prelims on Monday with a time of 56.22 seconds and 47th in the 200-meter butterfly prelims on Tuesday with a time of 2:04.40.

Berkoff has already had a decorated swimming career, and is the World University Games and Junior Pan Pacific Championships record holder in the 100-meter backstroke, according to her NC State bio.
As a freshman during the coronavirus-shortened season in 2019-20, Berkoff earned All-American status in five events. She added seven All-American accolades in 2021, winning NCAA championships in the 100 backstroke, 400 medley relay and 200 medley relay with the Wolfpack. Berkoff is a two-time ACC champion in the 100 backstroke.